The hidden costs of social business

I have written before about the benefits to a business in using social media through increased revenues or efficiency savings.  But what sort of investment is need to become a social business? If you want to do it properly – there are costs that might not immediately seem obvious. Inspired by a post by Marlene Friis about the infographic on the right – I have pulled together some things to consider when investing in social media.

Infographic from

Let’s get one thing straight. As an individual, setting up a social profile such as a Facebook account or Twitter account is free. But that doesn’t translate to a business. Once you have created a profile there is a whole bunch of time and resources that needs to go into managing it.

Social media isn’t free

This is because a social profile opens up a new customer touch point that can’t then be ignored. You can’t start a relationship with your customer or stakeholder with a few tweets and let it die. They will expect a relationship with you. An as we know relationships need work – a content strategy to keep things fresh and exciting, people with the skills to deal with customer service questions and queries and time and money for evaluation and monitoring, the list goes on….

People costs

My experience is that many organisations are adding responsibility for ‘social media’ into someone else’s job description. This isn’t scalable – at some point you will need a dedicated resource – whether at the strategic or tactical end, or both. Expect to pay £45,000 plus for an experienced social media strategist and around £25,000 for a social media savvy executive to help you  move towards becoming  a social business.

Media spend

Many brands are looking for big fan and follower numbers for their social media estates. For some this happens natuarally over a given time, where it is promoted on-pack, on websites, or cleverly integrated into the CRM system. However, if your business is slow to the game they may want numbers fast. There is where Facebook ads or Youtube takeovers, or promoted tweets can help drive fans. But how much does a Facebook fan cost? Expect to pay around £0.65 per fan with Facebook advertising on a CTR of 0.05%.

External Fees

Even with the best will in the world and some social media savvy people internally, you might still need some external help. Even to just kick-start the process. An external social media consultancy such as immediate future can provide a social media audit, and counsel to help you get the strategic direction right and then training and mentoring to upskill your internal team. Clearly the scope of this will impact the fee but expect to invest thousands rather than hundreds of thousands for this phase!

Other costs

Clients often overlook any creative or technical costs for social media. A great ATL might need to be adapted technically or creatively to fit the requirements of social media platforms. Equally, clients should always put aside funds for monitoring and evaluation. Very good paid for tools such as Radian 6 cost between £350 and £1200 per month (depending on the volumes of mentions) – then add on some extra time or agency fee to analysis and interpret this data.

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